A NEW youtube video lays out in simple terms how Hereford’s homeless can help get a roof over their heads.
Homelessness is among the most urgent and problematic issues dealt with by Hereford’s Citizen Advice Bureau, and its chief executive Claire Keetch insists housing remains “real issue in the county”.
The five-minute clip, created by the CAB and uploaded today, offers advice both to those who are already homeless, and those threatened with homelessness.
The CAB deals with hundreds of homelessness and housing cases every year.
And although Herefordshire Council is not legally required to house anybody, it does have an obligation to accept a ‘homelessness application’.
The video explains what this is, and more importantly what information is used to decide who can get assistance and who can’t.
“It is important that if homeless or threatened with homelessness people are aware of their rights,” said Ms Keetch.
“And this is especially the case when legislation or local practice changes.”
The changes Ms Keetch is referring to are the 2011 Localism Act – which allows the local authority to discharge its homelessness duties by offering accommodation in the private rented sector – and Herefordshire Council’s new Allocation Policy.
The Allocation Policy, said Ms Keetch, has changed the priority status given to applicants who are homeless.
However neither of these changes affects the local authority’s duty to deal with those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness under the Housing Act.
Ms Keetch said: “Housing is a consistent problem presented at the CAB in Herefordshire – with issues around homelessness, problems with private rented accommodation, rent and mortgage arrears, neighbourhood disputes all being part of the mix.
“Homelessness though is particularly problematic because of the obvious urgency and of course the distress being homeless or threatened with homelessness brings to individuals and families.
“Herefordshire’s housing stock, makes housing a real issue in this county.”
Recent changes to the Herefordshire Home Point’s waiting scheme should mean that the homeless who are seeking accommodation will have less time to wait, said Herefordshire Council’s Sharon Amery.
However she added: “Herefordshire is actually a rather expensive place to live.
“We have noticed an increase in rent levels due to a strong rental market and as wages are reasonably low in the county, the balance between renting and buying is slightly disproportional.”
Housing applications from homeless people have fallen from 29 per month in 2013, to 21 per month this year – but with the winter months still ahead that average could rise.
However they have fallen slightly from a high in 2011 of more than 31 applications per month.
Changes to Home Point have seen live applications fall from 4,735 to 680, and the way in which they are now dealt with should free up more resources to help house the homeless.
Anyone needing housing or homelessness advice can contact Herefordshire CAB at one of its county offices, by telephone or by email, and contact details can be found at www.herefordshirecab.org.uk
To see the video, visit http://youtu.be/DX1W7SW6lsg .